S3 E4 - 4:5:21, 2.53 PM
6:57PM Apr 5, 2021
Lee Skallerup Bessette
Hey everyone, welcome back to this week's episode of the all the things ADHD podcast with Lee and Amy. I'm one of your co hosts, Lee Skallerup Bessette. And we are about to join myself and my co host, Amy Morrison, once again in mid discussion around inclusivity, accommodations. And disability post COVID-19. As we, some of us, who have had the privilege to work from home are starting to transition back into the workplace and discussing how these conversations can help be shaped in the workplace and how we can have these difficult conversations and start to build, hopefully some trust. So with that, I will drop us right back in the middle of Amy and my conversation picking up where we left off last week. Thanks everyone so much for listening. And enjoy the second half of our conversation. I remember doing a study of academic study that I took part in and it was around mental health issues. And um, you know, so I'm doing the I'm answering the questions, and you know, how is it? How is depression impacted your work and all that kind of stuff? And then this was eight years ago, probably so a bit ago now. And the person asked me, like, have you ever thought of asking for accommodations? No, it was like, I was like, I have depression, like I don't like I just sort of power by way. I'm like, What? I literally I'm like, What even accommodations when I ask for? Well, you know if, like you said about your insomnia, right? Like, if it's that you can't sleep at night, then maybe you ask for afternoon classes, or you ask for an office with a window in it because a windowless office negatively impacts your mood. And so and all of these kinds of things, and I was like, like slack jawed is like never occurred to me, like, no, this is just something that I need to deal with internally and personally, because like, I, it took me a long time to sort of think about that and sort of realize that I could ask for things. And I was also going to contingent faculty positions. So I feel like I was in any position as for anything, right, like, yeah,
I mean, I have access to those sorts of things. And like I, when you said, like, after stuff, and like my reason for not asking for stuff is different. And it's because you know that that paper, I wrote the one with the 92 things in the website, it was about workplace accommodations, and the whole system is set up to be humiliating in the same way that the benefits are and like, the only way that you can secure accommodations in the academic workplace as in any other is by demonstrating your unfitness, right, that there has to be something wrong about you. And with you and right, and in an academic workplace, and in many professional workplaces, to be anything other than exceptional in the sense of perfect and excellent means that you're unqualified right. So there's a real kind of mismatch identity mismatch there when you're like, sort of have to say, you know, please help me not, please help me remove this barrier that's making it difficult for me to be as awesome as I am. That's not how that works, right? what you have to say is I am incapacitated and broken way I am broken down to show you just how broken I have to Yes, but actually somebody else has to show you how broken I am because my own word also was not trusted here. Right? So what you have to demonstrate is your inability to do the job. Right? Which I mean, many people who quite rightly have prided themselves on their capacity to succeed, despite the difficulties in their life, resist this framing of their requests for accommodation having to be made in terms of your deviation from the normal in a pathological way. Right. Yeah. So it was a while ago, the the University where I work, there's a in the building where my office is there is a very large auditorium. And all through the spring dance companies rent the auditorium for competitions. And that necessitates groups coming from everywhere. So there's buses all over the place. And then all of those groups need change rooms and dressing rooms. And so I'm about I'm about 20 feet away from the door to the second floor of the auditorium. And I know it's a nightmare and the classroom across for me was used as a change room. But like that's where I work right and I need you to know that the whole place smelled like finalement hairspray. The bathrooms were coated in glitter, like it smelled like Axe body spray exploded. There are people talking all over the place as if it's wildly and loudly The children are wearing tap shoes. Li God in the hallways.
And it was just internally cringing for you because like, this is literally
your night. My nightmare. It is my nightmare. Yeah, yeah. And I would like open my office door and there'll be like a dance mom and like some child dress like Sally Bowles in cabaret, you know, with a boost da and everything on there, like four year old body, like cranking away with the tap shoes. And I'd be like, you know, please shut the hell up. And they're like, well, we're here for the dance competition. I'm like,
I am working.
Yeah, here, right. And like, we would write these letters to the registrar saying stop it. And they're like, you know, get over it. Yeah. I would say like, for a lot of neurodivergent people, like our workplaces feel like they're filled with children and tap shoes, but just nobody else notices, right? Yeah. But you don't want to ask us somehow you have to, like get a report from an audiologist, about your, about your issues with like, sound sensitivity and stuff. And it should just be enough to say like, you know, I would prefer not to work in the hallway with the tap shoes, right? Like, Oh, no, like, you need to base yourself here. You need to tell us how miserable you are, how broken you are, how incompetent you are, how unable you are. And then maybe we'll give you half of what you asked for. But we're going to keep our eyes on you.
Yeah, that's what I hear. Hear the earplugs?
Yeah. Hear the earplugs? I'm like, no. ear plugs? Like, what? No, stop. Right. It's humiliating.
So So I guess that brings us to the to the next part is how do we begin to have these conversations? Sorry, in our workplace, how do we how do we come in and start to have these conversations from a place of that is productive rather than reductive? where, you know, and I think that that's the, you know, that's the that's the kicker, and I'm, I'm thinking to this, we're both on the Add to add attitude. So attitude, ADHD support group, which, again, I was really skeptical because this is one of the first places and one of the first websites that my doctor said that you should go to to learn about ADHD. And I was like, well, your website,
your doctor, you're like, well, website,
right? Like, yeah, like,
Yes, okay. Um,
but it's like, the site itself, the magazine attitude is amazing. It's really, really good. I mean, there's a lot of community stuff in there. So there's some stuff that you can take or leave, obviously, but like, as in terms of like, definitions, resources, you know, comorbidities, all of that kind of stuff. It's, it's really solid. And then and then there's the the support group where people will ask questions and those kinds of things. And there was one last week that, um, you know, came from and it said, my workplace is doing a talk about neurodiversity next month and would like ideas for how to create a better working environment for ADHD years, where that's accommodations management approaches, meeting norms and things you wish your boss colleagues were more aware of. It's a corporate job that is all virtual now but will be flexible in the future. And what I think is interesting though, is that it's coming from the top it seems rather than having to be initiated by somebody with ADHD now maybe the boss does is just like I'm gonna actually talk about this because I'm in a position of power now you one of the conditions of the settlement of a lawsuit though we trade but but but but again, it was it's fascinating It was fascinating to me like that I'm like like that they're even having this conversation at all right where I was like, oh, wow, Dad Yeah, fantastic. Um, and so I don't know how that conversation I should like message them or something and be like so how'd that conversation go? But like a lot of the stuff that we've been talking about came up right calendar invites right electronic calendar invites for everything and just totally consistent about that right note while Yeah, no, but like the noise right um just the the social awareness right around that you know, somebody dreams of a workplace with sore four solid walls a ceiling and a door to close oh my god Absolutely.
headphones, low traffic area. You know, the the lighting, right that too? Right? Do you have the buzzing neon light ahead on top of you that's just like terrible you know, ability to listen to music while working right. That's a big one for me, is an enemy. I share that office with two other people I realized that I'm not gonna be able to blast my like stereo. Nobody has to really know I mean, like I can't I get that I should wear my headphones if I want to listen to music, but I should be able to wear headphones and listen to music if I want to.
Yeah. ladders there's some workplaces to where people like I'd like to listen to music and they're like, No, you can't because it would bother other people. And then also like, Well, can I wear headphones and listen to music? It's like, No, you can't wear headphones. That's rude. Right? Pick one. Yeah. So like, like, you can work this out. Like, I think we were talking in our first series of like, special pandemic episodes, that I don't like having to yell through the house for my family, right? Because they can't hear me because they're half deaf. And also, they do things really loud. And so we came upon a solution that most of us are wearing headphones all day, but we text one another when we talk, right, like, so there are ways like if you were interested in making the person who wants to listen to music, able to listen to music, it's not an insurmountable problem to say, Well, you can't broadcast it because it bothers other people. But also you can't wear headphones, because it's too isolating and people can't talk to you like there are ways out of that if we wanted to find them. But we're much more interested in saying like, it's not normal to want that. So you're not allowed to have it, we're not going to
get it for that. One. I think that they're just we, we need to start being able to have conversations around redefining the norms, because there have to be some guidelines, I guess, redefining the guidelines, right, like you said, right. Like, there's, there's a trade off, we have to, you know, again, you I, we you and I work completely differently. Right. And I respect that, and you respect that about me. And so we have to negotiate if we were to work in the same space together, which we wouldn't, because that's
because you're too loud for me.
Yeah. No, I
know. I yeah. Yeah. No, and that's but but again, like, how do we negotiate that where it's like, because we all share where we are, we all share offices. Now, I don't even know if that's even gonna be possible with social distance guidelines when we go back. But, you know, right now, it's just sort of like, well, a desk is free. So you're gonna sit there, and there's no real consideration of styles? Well, here's the problem,
here's what's gonna happen. This is something like I'm going to bring my autistic brain to right now is that the workplace is organized as so many other things are on a set of norms. But the important thing about those norms is that you cannot name them explicitly. You cannot say, the reason that everybody has to come in at 8am is it allows us to feel that you are sufficiently compliant with management. Yeah, right. We cannot say that because you sound like an asshole. When you say it, the norm has to be implied, it will be enforced, and you'll be disciplined. But if you say like, Why do I have to, though? And it's like the worst kind of parenting? It's because I said, so. Yeah, about compliance. And so when the reason we don't have these discussions about mutual accommodation in the workplace is because we could easily do it, if we could articulate what the main values we are all aiming for. But we can't, right. So in my department, we're like, constantly revisiting the requirements of the graduate program, because graduate students are complaining because like, it doesn't work, right. It doesn't work, right. It doesn't. Yeah. And we'll say like, well, what is the point of having area exams? And the point can't be well, everybody has them? Okay. Yep. Right? Why do we do them as a four hour? Sit down in a lab altogether, simultaneous, synchronous exam? Does it have to be like that? Why, right? Or could we do it as a take home exam? Why? Because no one. So we argue about the details. How long should the reading lists be? Should they be customizable? By the student? Should the supervisor beyond the area exam committee should? Like should, should, should, should should. But what we will not discuss is, why do we have these exams? What are they for? Are they meant to be so hard that we will weed people out that we think are not going to finish a dissertation? Are they meant to prepare people to teach in this field? Or are they meant to prepare people to write their own specific dissertation? We do not talk about that, because there is some suspicion that there will not be consensus about the purpose of the exams. And in fact, there isn't. So what this turns out then, is that we have a series of strict rules that people different committees implement quite differently, because the values are not consistent. And then the students are like, we have no idea what's going on. Right? And then we say, but these are the rules. And they're like, but why? And we're like, Because I said so. Right. So we are so unwilling to have a difficult conversation about what the underlying values and goals of a specific workplace practice are. That we're never going to create a series of flexible ways to meet those goals because we don't want to name them because we might fight. Yeah.
Well, and we might hurt people's feelings. Oh, sure. Yeah. Right. Like, and I guess you'd say this that you're gonna end up with a Karen in the office. Oh, yeah. Gets who you know, you're gonna end up having to apologize to for maybe for asking for an accommodation for something that they're gonna cry about because Cuz you made them feel bad about how they weren't considerate of you in the past. Right, like, right, right,
right. I'm sorry that I have said, I need noise cancelling headphones because the environment is too loud because now Karen thinks she was too loud. And she was. But that's as my hearing is sensitive. Yeah. Right. I'm not asking Karen to shut up. I have asked Karen to shut up and she doesn't, if she does it, right. That's not a successful avenue of mitigation for me. So I've just said, You know what, I'm gonna wear my headphones, like, Don't you like me? Well, yes. But you're very loud. Right? Like, yeah, we don't want to have those discussions, because often it disrupts the comfort level of people who are happy with the status quo. And so they let you do the things that you need to do in order to meet the standard that you wish and they wish for you to heat to meet because they would have to submit themselves with that discomfort of having to actually explain what the underlying values and goals are and risk risk noticing that there's not a consensus on that. I mean, no, go ahead.
I was gonna say, because at the end of the day, it's again, it's not, not trying to take anything away from you. Like, this isn't a zero sum game where it's just like, if I get an accommodation, you lose, what even you lose, you don't lose anything. Like, you lose, like being able to make me feel bad, because I'm not there from eight to four every day. Like to or the the ability to? I don't know, I just it's it's, I mean, I understand it, because I've been there, we all grew up in it, right? Like, yeah, I even see it with my own daughter who were like, I'm like, we could get your accommodations. She's like, No,
yeah, no, she's like, I'm not I don't want any of that special treatment. And I'm like, it's not special treatment, it is.
Removing a barrier. Yeah. To your full participation. Yeah.
But we have such it is, so we're so acculturated with it, it is just it's in the water. Right? That, you know, even even just to have this conversation is subversive, in a way. And then to be able to bring these conversations. I mean, it's, it's a risk, right? Again, this is why I was so impressed by that post, because somebody above took the initiative to have these conversations and to, you know, take the cover for it, right, that they have the power to be able to say that this is an important conversation, we're gonna have this conversation and even just saying it means it's something that we are potentially going to take seriously at the very least. And so there's no, right, but blame the boss, right, but don't blame, you know, don't blame the ADHD or the autistic person for, you know, oh, this is, you know, something Lee's bringing up, right, though, it's like, the boss is saying this. And he is, and he or she, again, they didn't identify is that wants to have a bit of a general conversation around inclusivity. in the workplace. And, you know, I think that that ultimately is is is what it takes. So if you listening are in a position of any sort of power whatsoever, make this face to have these conversations. And, you know, it not in a revealing way, not in a demeaning way, not in a reductive way, but in a productive way to be able to, you know, make sure that all your employees are able to work at their best are all of your colleagues or I don't know, like, however you define the people you work
with, I guess. I mean,
not in upper levels.
I think this is like,
good practice for everybody, though, because we're all less normal than we pretend to be, generally, right? It's like the way that I'm sort of addressing my PhD supervisees needs right now we're saying like, what, like, what do you like, what is our goal, our goal is for you to finish and like X number of years, or you would like to get a chapter done by this time, like, what can we do together to make that happen, like, and it's not just like, I'm going to ask the ones that are like, whatever, you know, have whatever type of whatever, I ask all of them. Right? Because all of them are going to have a different way to meet that goal. And particularly when you're in a kind of outcome based, you know, profession, let's say you like fine art painter, or you're a research professor or you know, you like build websites, like what matters is not like how it gets done, it matters that it gets done, right. But the person to whom it matters, how it gets done, is the person doing the work, right? Yeah. So why not ask everybody like what can I do to support you? Right? Do you need to work from home two days a week like some of the administrative assistants in my department now have each have a one day work from home thing because since they are the first points of contact with the Department for all of our students, and because they are the only ones who are in the office with their doors open? The entire week, they often can't call Bowl 30 minutes without an interruption. So when they're doing stuff like compiling admission spreadsheets, they have a day one day a week that they can work from home, which just means they don't have to close their doors to students who would just be knocking on the doors. Excuse me, excuse me. Yeah. Do you know and so it says office hours are, you know, where the economics department is? Do you know where the drop box is? You know, do you know do and that's just like a recognition that that sometimes you need peace and quiet to get worked on. And you can't achieve that in an open door, sort of hallway office situation where the only person in the department who's currently there and of course, everybody's going to stop at your door? Right? We should ask everyone you know, what, what can I do to help you meet the essential duties of this job? Right? So aren't we have three or three and a half? administrative assistants in my department and their work from home day is not all the same day? Yeah, because somebody needs to be there for the students, right? That is an essential service, but they don't all need to be there every day like and the days that they are there. They staggered their lunches, too, because it's not, it's just not going to work to have like an hour a day where nobody's there, when we're only really open for seven hours a day. So like these are these are negotiated though. Like, who's gonna go first? Or who's going to switch it off? Or like, how many people have to be here? Is it more safe to do it like this? Or is it more flexible to do it like that? I mean, it just takes time to discuss with people but you have to know what the essential things are, you have to know what the goals are, you have to know what the objectives are. And so much of what we do, I mean, this is the most boy lit, like everything, like from Fight Club to, I don't know, the correct is all like, everything is so meaningless and drudge and I go to work, and I like office space punch in my time, but it doesn't mean anything. I could it could, it could mean something, right? If we could agree what the goals are. And then once we have that conversation, it brings a little bit more meaning into everything. And you can decide, is it more important that I am wearing close toed shoes with hose? Or is it more important that I am here for three hours every day between 12? And three? Like what's important? Because what is the goal?
And I think that those are an I try. You know, that whenever I'm working on a project with people, that's that's my approach, like, what do you what do you need for me like, and I'm very aware of my own limitations, let's say as well, I know I'm loud, right? And so it becomes, okay. How much space do you need from me in order to be able to get your parts of the of the work done? Right? Um, how many check ins like, How
do you know? Do
you need me to enforce deadlines? Like, do you want it? Once I'm done with it? Do you want to see it as it goes through? Because that's more reassuring to you? You know, because some people get really nervous with my work style, because it's like, What is she doing? It's like, it'll
get done. They're
like, but I don't know what you're doing. So it's like, Okay, well, I'll share the Google Doc with you. And you can have it open as a tab and you can peek in and not that I'm, I'm offering this to you not because, you know, your your tendency, let's say to what could be interpreted as micromanagement is your anxiety. Yeah. Right. And so how can I work to ease your anxiety around the completion of a project? Right, right. And to be able to do that, and I think one of the nice things about where I work now is that, you know, I think I said this is that people now know what my strengths are. And they're out to play to my strengths, right? Like we were, and part of that is this being me being open and honest part of that is, but they also now trust me that they know they're going to get the word that I'm going to get the work done. And so I have a relationship, right? Yeah, exactly. I've a relationship with people. And so it's an and I worked, you know, I've worked really hard on that, because I understood, or, I don't know if I could articulate it then but I sort of understood that like, okay, we all work differently, okay, I get that now.
And I gotta, I gotta
figure this out, because I want to be successful. But I also like the people that I work with, and I want them to be successful, too. And so how do we figure this out
together? It's mutual accommodation. Right? Exactly. We are all like, in the workplace, we, you know, have to be like the Avengers, which is a collection of people working towards a common goal, all very good at what they do, but they don't have the same skills. Right? Like, you can't have an Avengers. It's nothing but Star Lord, like no, then it's so obnoxious. It's all sarcasm and dance breaks. Like you need a little bit of Captain America to be super earnest about stuff, right? Like, so not like this is the thing with norming and standards is we think that everybody should be fungible and they should have the same skills and all of the skills right but that's not how skills work like. Like, sometimes there are there are ways that I will like, mutually accommodate with people so we can get a shared task done like me knowing who I am and knowing who they are and and discussing with each other what we what we need, but sometimes, like People sometimes ask me to, do you want to call it this special issue with me? I'm like, No, because I can't I just I know I'm gonna fail at that. I just know that I am like, well, we set up as podcasts and you're like, we might get the email like, No, you don't. Like if you just like, yeah, I get it, I will read all the research reports. And I have, right because like, I'm not going to agree to do something that bitter experience has shown is just going to ruin my relationships with people that I respect quite a lot. Because I'm not ever going to be able to meet that expectation, right? Like it's not, it's not a Bartleby sort of, I would prefer not to, it's like, if I say yes to this, I will have very good intentions of this is going to be the time that I managed to do it. But my relationship with you, and the work is actually too important for me to take that chance, I will do another similarly difficult task, like I think we've talked about before about, you know, things sometimes that I think are like skimming the cream off the top I'm trying to take all the good jobs are actually jobs that people don't want to do. Right? Yeah, I will do all the high school assemblies, I will go on, like, you know, do a pretend lecture for the incoming students like I will do all of that, because I love the sort of performance and schmoozing aspect of that, and some of my colleagues really hate it. But those are the colleagues that do the edited collections that, um, like, kill me know. Right? So as long as we're like, being attentive to that, being honest with ourselves and with others, and they are being honest with us, then, then we can mutually accommodate. So that the word and and I
think it's really disarming, I've noticed this, that when I'm really honest with people about like, what I can and can't do, they don't know what to do with that. At first rate is really disarming to them. They're like, yeah, like, Oh, what? Like, okay, yeah, you just admitted, like, it's because they don't see me as sane. And here's what I'm really good at. All they hear is like, and here's the thing that I'm really bad at, like, how would you even admit to that? Yeah. And I'm like, Well, you know, like I can, I can muddle through spreadsheets, but like, really, spreadsheets don't make any sense to me. And they're like, you can't say that. And I'm like, why not? I can't do that.
Yeah, right. Like, if you put me in charge of this spreadsheet, trouble is gonna ensue,
right? If you put me in charge of the spreadsheet, trouble is going to ensue, and you're just gonna get mad and frustrated with me, right? And so I'd much rather be like, Okay, if you set up a template for me, I can follow the template, right? Like, if it is absolutely essential that I do things in a spreadsheet, then like, set a sit down with me, helped me set up a template will take an hour, it'll be fine. And then I can run from that. And I'd much rather sit down and do that, then you have to redo all of my work in like, a rush. Because I didn't do it right. Now, where in my mind, I'm just like, I think it's right. It's a spreadsheet. That's what you're asked for. Right?
So I think that's about relationships again, right? Is that in order to just sort of make these like not confessions, but like disclosures? And so like, Yeah, actually, like me, in spreadsheets, like, it's not the best for like me, and email, it's not the best, or I'm not going to manage the contracts for the CO editor, I'm just not going to do that like to say that is an act of vulnerability, right? Or admitting a non excellence to people, especially people already know, they that you identify as disabled, then you risk sort of marking yourself as, as forever incompetent. But when you do that with someone, it is revealing a strong trust in that relationship. Right, that you're willing that that disclosure is not an excuse, right? That disclosure is an admission that you cannot undertake that part of the shared goal. and achieve success there. Right. It sort of says like, I really want to do a good job here. It's it matters to me. And it's more important to me that the good job gets done, then I maintain some that you maintain some impression of me where I am invulnerable and good at everything. Right? Yeah. Like I'm less interested in masking That and more interested in getting the work done. Right. And so yesterday, I was having kind of a bad day, because before I got into bed in the morning, I was reading about how my provincial government here in Ontario is like doing what they call an emergency brake. It's not a lockdown. But it's an emergency break. And is it not the grace zone, which is like more urgent than the red zone, but anyhow, it's like just very, very complicated. And we're doing another month of that, which means my hair appointment got canceled. The worst for me, I've a very high maintenance haircut and my whole sense of self is wrapped up in having good hair. So this was very traumatizing for me. And I was just so overwhelmed. And I had like a big cry before I even got out of bed and I was in such a foul mood, and I was tweeting about it. And I was like I just I can't today, like maybe today needs to be a self care day and one of my grad students who had a scheduled co working session with she like, emailed me and was like, you know, I'm feeling kind of lousy, too. There were some things going on in current events that were impacting her personally, and sort of her mental equilibrium was disrupted by that and she made that disclosure to me and I, she said you want to just maybe put this off until next weekend, I wrote her back. And I said, like, you know, thank you both for your care for my mental state. But thank you also for the gift of your own admission of vulnerability to like, I accept that as a gift, right. And I think you're very wise to ask us to put this off. And I was just thinking, how proud I was of myself, to have a relationship with this student where they felt comfortable, being vulnerable with me in that way. And how proud I was of my student, as well for knowing herself well enough to understand that, that this was going to be an impediment to her getting some things done as well. And I thought, like, that's the workplace you want to be in, right? Where people trust each other to say, like, I can do this, but not today. Or this is where I'm not, like, let's do this task instead of that task, or I'm feeling really great today. Tell you what, if you want to, like, bunk off with that, I'm just gonna do your part for you today, cuz I'm really full of energy. And people sometimes too, right? Yeah, we have to trust each other. And it has to be based on sort of relationships of mutual respect, and trust. But like I would say, corporate America, and like late postmodern capitalism does not have space for relationships, right? That's why we have norms and standards, right? Or trust, because it routinize is an automates, right. It tries to run relationship by algorithm, an algorithm with like, as few inputs as possible, because we don't want to complexify this at all right? Yeah. So the idea of standards and norms really is, is a kind of very poor solution to the speed up of everything such that we cannot have trusting long term and durable relationships with the people that we work with such that we try to accommodate each other by going to think that's what the main problem is. Yeah.
Now, so So what you're saying is that there's no easy answer. And, yeah,
it's a process.
God helped me Lee, it's in the details, you know, how I feel like details, right. Yeah, I
I think, though, that like, we're not, we're not necessarily good at like details when it comes to like sewing or answering emails or play arpeggios. Yeah, playing it. Yeah, exactly. But I think that we're good at certain certain details in relationships. I think that there is, at least for me, I don't know, there's there's a certain attunement, right of like that, and this is the ADHD memory, I could remember your entire life story, but I for the life of me will never remember your name. Oh, I like it. Like it just you say your name. And it's like rock rods, it's literally brown noise. And that is the other main benefit of the zoom call is that everybody's names always played their screens. God bless.
I look like 100% more socially competent now that I'm like, Yes, Lee, because I could read your name.
I know what the students I'm teaching, I'm so bad at names. I'm like, it's all there. But,
but again, like I will retain those details and sort of file them away. In terms of like, like I said, like I I will pick up on the, you know, and part of that was self preservation. But now I'm realizing I can use it for a good thing rather than before, where it's like I have to, I have to figure out all of these cues. So I can pretend to be normal. But now it's like I can pick up all these cues not so I can pretend to be normal. But so again, understand these people that I'm working with better. Yeah, that's a better use of your energies, Lee yeah. Oh, yeah. And so like, I'll know like and pick up on it through body language dis through their interactions with other people in the office and all that kind of stuff where it's like, I'm going to be too loud for this person. Right? No, but it's like, okay,
so the recoil, right when you get to the underside of their chin, you're too loud.
Or the crate or the like flinch the flinch that's the word I'm looking for the flinch. I see the flinch. And I'm like, oh, there it is. Okay, that's but, but also like, how, how they keep their workspace, right how, how they, you know, how they, how they dress even, right, like all of those things that sort of, it used to be like, I have to pay attention to how these people do things so that I can try to do that myself.
But I can pretend to be like them.
Yeah, I can pretend to be like them and like not deviate too much from the norm. Now. It's, it's okay. How can I learn about these individuals that I'm going to have to engage with every single day, and we're going to have to work together productively to be able to accomplish our shared goals. What do I need to know about them and be aware of but also be able to then use that as a way to To start a conversation.
Yeah, I mean, is that the flip side of your rejection sensitive dysphoria to probably acutely attuned to the emotional temperature of a room, right, you're always scanning people to sort of understand what their feelings are and and when you get out of your own way, right? When you you're not using that ability in order to mask and masking is always going to make you feel like you were not good enough being yourself, which is just going to exacerbate the rejection sensitive dysphoria. Why don't you turn that like exquisite attunement to other people's emotional states and social cues into building a relationship with them where you get to be who you are. And they get to be who they are, like, this is something I'm trying to do to like, I don't have that, that same kind of sensitivity that you do, but many people accuse, like autistic people of having no empathy, you know, because sometimes our unwillingness to make eye contact, but sometimes like, it's an excess of empathy that produces like just huge, huge, strong feelings in response, like, particularly emotional contagion is very, very easy for me to pick up, somebody is feeling of acute stress or sadness. And if I look away from them, or I like I get flatter In response, it is because I am overwhelmed by the amount to which I am mirroring the feelings that they are having. And they're not even my feelings, but they become my feelings. And it's too much right, then. And so I am trying to learn ways to not sort of habitually and accidentally suck up other people's moods until they become my mood, I'm trying instead, to see if I can still notice, right? their mood and not take on their mood because like I see a lot of people who are stressed students are often stressed when they get to see me like, you know, for great appeals or asking for extensions, or what have you, or they're nervous about like they're applying to the program, and I would often just become so I would amplify what they were feeling by taking that on myself. And not really realizing that that's what I was doing. So learning a little bit more about, about how autistic people often shut down in the face of other people's strong emotions, not because we don't care, but because we become over involved in those emotions, we take them on and have no way of dealing with that, right. So if I can see that process happening to myself, I've got great artistic capacity to sort of step back and dissociate a little bit and say, like, I can recognize what your feelings and moods are. And instead of having that for myself, I can What can I do to help you even out a bit? Right? How can I make you feel less nervous? or How can I make you feel less sad? or How can I make space for your sadness to exist without drowning both of us, right? And so that's like, something that I'm trying to do in the same way that like you are now extending energy building productive relationships with people instead of worrying about if they like you all the time. Right? Yeah. Yeah. Which is,
and that's why I wanted to ask because there is the, like, sort of have this this part of the conversations because there is that stereotype of people with autism, that it's like, well, they they're not empathetic, they can't see or sense or, you know, figure out emotions where I was like, that's not, that hasn't like, my experience in my engagement with people who have autism. And so that's why I wanted to kind of bring that up to because I think it's it when we talk about inclusivity I think part of the inclusivity is also gaining a richer and deeper understanding of what ADHD means what autism means what, you know, depression and anxiety mean. Yeah,
yeah, like depression. For example. People always say, Oh, you're so sad, like, just try to be happy. It's like, No, no, depression is like, you don't feel anything. Yeah, it's terrible, right? And I would say like, around the feelings with autism, it's it's like, people have feelings, and it's like a song playing on the radio. And if it's playing at the right volume, you can be like, that's a pop song. That's a Britney Spears song. That's hit me one more time. Okay, like I know what that is. But autistic emotions, like other people's emotions come at us like, we have opened a door. But we're now suddenly standing next to the arena sized blaster from a Taylor Swift concert, but we're directly in front of it unexpectedly. So all you hear is pain, right? It doesn't matter if it's death metal, or like the sort of softest like Baroque piano, like it doesn't matter. All you get is pain because it is so incredibly loud. That it doesn't even feel like music. Like that's how autistic people experience often other people's emotions is that it's overstimulating. And the response to that is often to shut down, right? Yeah, because it's too much like I cannot have any feelings or make any facial expressions right now because I'm so overwhelmed by what's happening, I don't even know. And our own emotions sometimes come the same way. Right? It's it's sometimes like being right in front of the arena size speaker unexpectedly so that you can't tell if it's music or not. Let alone what genre? Or what instruments or that it is a song like you just can't. It's so overwhelming that you can't even tell what's happening. Or it can be like you're in a really noisy cafe. And the espresso machines are hissing, and people are talking and the door is shining. And there's radio playing in the background, and somebody says, Do you, that's why I'm right. And you're like, I'm sorry. Is there music playing? So sometimes my own emotions arrive like that is that they are producing effects in the world, but I'm not aware that I'm having that emotion. Right. So it's, it's not about lack of empathy. Sometimes it's just completely overwhelmed. The volume is either too high or too low on the emotions, and it's very distressing. And that's why often we get quiet. Yeah, that's my analogy for that. Thank you for asking.
No, that's a really great analogy. Thank you. And, and I, and that's, that's one of the you know, and we'll, we'll eventually talk about memes. But
not today, though. Maybe not? No,
definitely not today, because when nobody's tagged us with memes, and I haven't thought to tag you with any of them either. So we actually have to get on that. We forgot. Like I said, I sent her my recorded intro to Episode Two, because I broke up the first thing into two I said, like, we said, we're going to talk about meetings, but maybe we'll get
distracted, he will
know, because that's how we roll. But it's so yeah, so I think talking, right, taking the time and the space and talking and listening. That was as if someone with ADHD, active listening is something that I needed to learn and still work on. Because I would like to blurt out all of the ways that I felt the same way.
I feel something completely different. Let
me tell you about it. There's lots of beams about. Yeah, it's like, I'm not trying to make this all about me, this is actually trying to connect with you. Which which can also make having these conversations in the workplace difficult because of the the different level of engagement or how our brains process and then try to connect with people. Yeah. Is to be like, let me tell you this related. tangentially related story, but trust me in my brain. Make sense, right? This isn't listening like that. I call that listening with my mouth.
I'm listening by talking. That's how much attention I'm paying. She was I have to start talking now.
Yeah, yeah. But that's exactly it is what I'm not talking when you're just like she's gone. Right? Like if I'm not talking Oh, not that's not actually true. And a lot of times I am listening and working really hard not to blurt something out. Because I'm like, it's not the place. It's not the place, not the place. Wait for it. Wait for it. Maybe you can note so you don't forget. Yeah. But, but also, like, you learn, it's like they're not done. I know, they're not done. They're not they're not done. And I have an idea. But I know they're not done articulating their idea. And so I gotta wait till they get to the end of it. Because this is it's gonna be different. Give it five minutes. It'll change just social skills. We
are developing them. Yeah, I
know. But I don't know. It's it's one of those things. I was talking with a friend. And this is a bit of a tangent. Shocking. Oh, so I was I was talking with a friend who suspects he has ADHD and has had it the whole time, but not the hyperactive kind and, and is he? And so of course, the expectations of what it ADHD is supposed to look like in boys, he does it, it looks more like it does with a girl. Right? Like, just until you have gendered notions coming in on that as well. And all those kinds of things. And so we were we were talking about it, and he's having a really rough time of it right now. And he's gonna go and get a diagnosis. And he's like, how does that make things better, though? And, and he's like, how, and again, it's this whole idea of norms and ableism and all that. And he's like, how is this not just become an excuse? And, and, and I, I it's hard to articulate, right? And I said, but you can't and I told him this. I said, you can't change the narrative you have about yourself without changing the language.
And so until you have a new language, you can't change the story. Right? Right, until you have a new language, that the story is always going to be the same for you that you've internalized over the years about who you are, what your failings are and why those failings exists, that you're late and why they are character flaws. Yeah, that and why they are character flaws. And so finding getting a diagnosis is a way to change the story
because it's so easy to gain access to medication that helps 80% of people who do get yeah substantially improve their daily functioning and happiness. I have to I have to plump for medications again, because every ADHD group I met is always like, Hi, I'm a new member, how can I not take meds and like, Why do you hate treatment?
What are the natural Pathak ways that I can do? Yeah, like? Yeah, exactly. And then
out of my diet we're like No, okay, yeah, right. Don't do that.
But, but yes, and it does give you access to medication but I mean, even even with the medication to help your day to day, yeah, there is still this narrative. Yeah, around ableism around identity around, you know, all of these kinds of things that,
you know, we
the medication makes things easier. It doesn't make everything cool. Like we said, No, it
doesn't make things easier. Remember, we said it does? makes it less hard, less hard. You're right.
Yes. Hard on my bed. But, but like just being able to change the narrative between like, yeah, I am paying so close attention to everybody so that I can make sure that I fit in, versus I'm paying close attention to people because I've, I've honed that skill, I have it right. So how can I use it? How can I change the narrative around this particular coping mechanism and make it into something more positive rather than something that is, I'm a terrible person. And so therefore, I have to pay so close attention to everyone so that they don't see how terrible a person I am.
You know, amen.
Yeah. But like,
you know, something that I did not pay enough attention to today, Lee. what time it is lunch? Oh. Because we're recording this notes now. Like 211. Yeah. And we started recording at lunchtime. by which time you think I would have eaten lunch. But I did not eat lunch at lunchtime, because I forgot. Yeah. And because today is an unusual day because it is a holiday, and I'm out of my routines, and now I'm starving. isn't all the things, all the things? things but we have to know maybe this is like a moment to say to our listeners. Now ask yourself, are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Do you have to go pee? Like probably? Yes. like yeah, it was probably some rueful chuckles right now like, Oh my god, I forgot to eat lunch. I didn't have to go pee. I had to go pee for 40 minutes already early, whatever it is, but it was like a good way to thank you
for not bringing us to the bathroom with you.
We don't know what you did. Tell us
or send an email. I won't read it. So it's okay.
I appreciate 99.99% of the emails. Not sure I want that one. Not sure. Yeah. That's all I'm gonna get now. That's all the email is
gonna be. Oh, my God. Oh, started so high minded. And we ended up with toilet humor.
Oh, my gosh, we did. I wouldn't wait. All right, you should go eat. We ran this recording. And we'll be back next week. And
what do I say? keep focused. Try stay focus. Yeah, try to stay focused, stay focused. And what I say until really well.
You cut out again?
Of course I did.
I think you've got like noise cancelling or something where it's like, if it gets too loud. It's like no.
Yeah, I would never obviously trigger that in any other situation.
I clearly have mine turned off. As always, in case you do want to email us not about taking us to the bathroom with you. The email address is all the things at HDH gmail.com. You can also tag us please not the bathroom. This is just gonna be like a running gag now or we'll forget it even exists until somebody does tag us we're like, run gag. Yeah. Oh, Lord. I'm ready writing on Twitter. She's Did you walk on Twitter? Yeah. We appreciate all of you. Thank you for listening. And thank you for thanking us for the third season and understanding this this was a lot of fun today, I think. Yeah, it was a lot of fun. I get to have fun re listening to this and editing it. I'll tell you that. And I get to leave all of the PP jokes in.
There they are.
Alright, until next week, everyone. Thanks so much.